Orthodox and Relevant

14 Apr

 Our Catholic Faith, is built on the Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is he from whom we learn how to live, how to love, and how to bring the joy of faith to others.

After Vatican Council II, completed in the mid-1960s, the Church throughout the world experienced dramatic changes: Mass in the language of the people, lay people taking on more parish and diocesan responsibility, new emphasis on the primacy of conscience.

There were indeed tough issues: the Church’s continued teaching against artificial birth control, the struggles to find a charitable solution for the divorced, celibacy of priests and religious, chastity for the single people, an all male clergy, the role of women – and laymen – in the Church in terms of setting directions in parish worship, governance and life.

At the same time in America, abortion became “legal.” There arose a sexual revolution nurtured by an unreal sense of personal independence. People began to ignore authority. Older people’s values were old-fashioned, born of an outdated sense of cultural right and wrong. Political Correctness found a fertile nesting ground.

So, as I recall, we came up with a way to set people’s minds at ease. It was called the “pastoral” approach; you hold to the moral and doctrinal teachings of the Church, but you do so pastorally, taking the situation and the feelings of the people in the pew.  That sounded good and it still does – however, is this not a cop-out? Did this in any way help people face their own personal challenges?

Orthodox Became a Dirty Word

When bishops and priests preached the truth uncompromisingly, they were considered somehow beyond orthodox, unfeeling, pharisaical and ultra conservative.  Of course, some were like that – but in so labeling a few, “orthodox” became, at least subconsciously, a dirty word.

Popular priests and bishops, in some cases,  just ignored the issues of the day and just wanted people to “feel good” – the very thing that attracts certain Catholics to other churches, the notion that feeling was the essence of religious experience. In other words, if it feels good do it.

Orthodox and Relevant

Why not go to the heart of the matter. In so many ways, this “new” post-conciliar Catholicism is the same as the old one.  We are still not addressing the real issue – and the issue is this:

We have failed to make the truth relevant. For example, we still treat human sexuality issues from two extremes: one, the law is the law and that’s it; second, well, it is the moral law, but remember God is merciful. And thank God he is.

But human sexuality is not an add-on as people reach puberty. It is essential to our nature, and we are creatures who, for better or worse, have free will.

It seems to me that to understand any moral or theological issue facing people we need to go all way back to Eden, to contemplate how Adam and Eve were created, how they were before they sinned, how they were as God created them – innocent, in full health, with all their powers properly ordered, a man and woman able to walk with their God in the cool of the evening.

In other words, we need to relearn who we are as people created in God’s image. We need to reflect anew on why God’s will and the Church’s discipline help us recapture the blessing of innocence, an innocence far from passive, an innocence of dynamic love and action.


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